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Ben Akrin's Gondola PlottyBot Is a Vertical, 3D

Nov 10, 2023Nov 10, 2023

Maker Ben Akrin has released a vertical pen plotter project dubbed the Gondola PlottyBot, powered by a Raspberry Pi Zero W — offering a range of features including in-browser control and internet-enabled live drawing capabilities.

Traditional XY plotters — whether they wield a pen, a blade, or a laser — are designed to work on a flat surface. But what do you do if your desk is already cluttered with other useful tools? Go vertical, suspending the drawing head from pulleys and having it use a wall rather than a table as its work surface — giving it a near-zero footprint compared to its horizontal equivalents.

That's precisely what Akrin's Gondola PlottyBot does. A follow-up to Akrin's earlier Tabletop PlottyBot — then known simply as PlottyBot — the Gondola PlottyBot is driven by a Raspberry Pi Zero W single-board computer, some clever software, and a range of 3D-printable plastic parts designed to put a pen under computer control using pulleys and motors.

"[Gondola PlottyBot offers] simple control from a web interface," Akrin explains, "with plot preview, play, pause, and stop. [It] works on complex days-long plots without missing a step. [It's of] arbitrary size, [and] can be deployed on vertical surfaces of various sizes.

"[It has] GCode support, or simple human readable (and kid-friendly) Plotter code [with] automatic conversion from GCode to Plotter code. [It has] various pen stroke aggregation algorithms and normalization to [the] drawing area [and] internet enabled live drawing."

That list of features will be familiar to those who had already seen the more traditional TableTop PlottyBot: the two devices share a common software stack, Akrin explains, meaning that features designed for one are automatically made available for the other.

The 3D-print files, software, and full build instructions are available on Akrin's blog.